ANSBACH, Germany (Feb. 10, 2014) -- As part of Armed Forces Entertainment's Women's Self-Defense Tour, martial artist and personal trainer Linda Vu is touring Europe this month and is slated to visit U.S. Army Garrison Ansbach Feb. 12. Her goal is that of "empowering one woman at a time" through her free, hands-on self-defense seminars.
Vu and her self-defense team are scheduled to make two stops here, one at Storck Fitness Center at 11:30 a.m. and another at Katterbach Fitness Center at 5:30 p.m. So far this month she and her team have taught hundreds of community members throughout U.S. Army Europe, including USAGs Bavaria, Stuttgart, Kaiserslautern and Benelux. Vu, whose seminars run the gamut from teaching participants how to recognize and avoid dangerous situations to the more involved physical drills and scenarios, took a break from her tour to talk about what she and her team offer and why she teaches self-defense.
Who are your target audiences and what are you trying to impart to them in the short time you have?
In a perfect world, there would be no crimes, but crime does happen. Women tend to be targeted more because of their size and femininity. I want to empower young ladies and all women around the world to be strong, confident and not to be a victim. In an assault situation, the outcome doesn?'t have to be predetermined.
What kind of feedback have you received among military personnel and their families since touching down in Europe?
The feedback has been amazing! The women have been commenting on how empowered they feel and that they've learned something that they can use today. They're inspired to take more self-defense classes. It's a great feeling to see the changes in women in such a short time.
How has your seminar and teaching evolved over the years?
I've fine-tuned the techniques specifically for women to use and apply immediately without having any prior training. I choreographed the techniques into three to four basic steps that are fun and easy to learn and remember.
How did you select your team?
I wanted to put together a team with a variety of different backgrounds and styles in martial arts, self-defense and law enforcement. Because some of the topics are delicate and serious, it's important to have men that are compassionate, respectful and professional.
In your life, how would you describe your experience so far with the military?
It's an honor to meet and work with such courageous women, who truly are my heroes. It's also a privilege to help the spouses and dependents of those that serve. Seeing the dedication of our military and commitment makes me feel very hopeful and positive about the future.
What do you love most about teaching others about self-defense?
I love empowering women to be strong, both mentally and physically. I believe that a woman can be strong without losing her femininity. Martial arts help to empower me, and I truly love staying fit. I'm thrilled to share my techniques with anyone wanting to improve their life.
Among other martial arts, you study Wing Chun, which Bruce Lee studied. What do you like about this art in particular?
I prefer Wing Chun Kung Fu because it's based on structure and techniques. They say size doesn't matter as long as you use proper structures and techniques. At my size of 5 feet and 86 pounds, I needed a system designed to use an opponent's size and strength against them. What else can I say? If it's good enough for Bruce Lee, it's definitely good enough for me.
Are seminar participants ever taken aback by your size when they first meet you and how do you overcome their preconceived notions?
I?'m definitely smaller than average. During my demonstration, I take my 200-pound teammate to the ground and disarm him. Usually this will give it a wow factor and get my audience's attention. By the end of the seminar, all the ladies are able to do the same thing.
What are the reasons you focus on women, and what do you hope they take away from your lessons?
There are thousands of martial arts and self-defense classes that cater to men and a few specifically for women. Most martial arts classes tend to be full of men and oftentimes the women get overlooked or dismissed. Although I do train men, these series of seminars are just for women. Also, most women's self-defense classes are taught by men and emphasize theories and awareness, which is important. However, my seminars simulate an actual attack and teach women what to do when you have no other options and how to take down your assailant.
You don't have a lot of time to spend with your audience. What do you hope the seminar participants and/or spectators do with this knowledge and experience once you leave?
My goal is to empower women to be more confident and strong in all aspects of their life. I hope they practice the techniques and never become a victim. I make sure my techniques work for me. If it works for me, I know it will work for any woman. Like anything that you do, you must practice to become great.
How do you feel so far about your visits in Europe?
Honestly, we hardly have any time to sightsee because we're trying to get in as many seminars as possible in the short time we're here. Europe is beautiful and the people I've met are warm and friendly. I hope to come back again.
Do you have anything to add?
It's truly an honor and a privilege to be selected by Armed Forces Entertainment to bring my Women's Self Defense seminars to the military. Being here is my way to say thank you to all of those that serve.
To learn more about Linda Vu's upcoming sessions here, visit www.ansbach.armymwr.com/europe/ansbach/ or call 09811-83-7636 or DSN 468-7636.